Idaho women ready for rivalry game against high-flying Eastern Washington on Saturday

Jan. 11—MOSCOW, Idaho — When Idaho entertains Eastern Washington on Saturday in an annual doubleheader with the schools' men's teams, the Vandals will be prepared.

The Vandals are 9-5 overall, match the Eagles at 2-0 in Big Sky Conference play and have won five consecutive games.

Idaho most recently defeated host Denver 60-51 in a Summit League-Big Sky challenge, and topped Chicago State 80-52.

"They are good, a very good team," Idaho coach Carrie Eighmey acknowledged of the Eagles (12-3 overall with six consecutive wins). "They play well together. They are one of the best passing teams I have seen this year. A lot of their players touch the ball."

The Eagles are led by Aaliyah Alexander, 15.7 points per game; Jamie Loera, 11.4 ppg; and Jacinta Buckley, 10.1 ppg.

"It is hard to find chinks in their armor," Eighmey said. "There are not two or three players where we can say, 'We don't have to guard this player.'

"They have good size ... that is definitely an advantage at both ends of the floor."

The Vandals counter with Kennedy Johnson, 11.4 ppg; Amalie Langer, 9.7 ppg; and Hope Butera, 9.0 ppg.

Eighmey said the Vandals used the week between its most recent game and the matchup with EWU to work on themselves.

"We have been shooting the ball much better than at the beginning of the season," she said. "As of late, we have had much more confidence at the 3-point line. We have been making our 3-point shots, and they are good shots. Good rhythm shots."

The Vandals have hit 69 of 210 3-point attempts this season.

Eighmey has used the preseason to gain insights into coaching in the Big Sky. She's had great success at the NCAA Division II level, where she led the University of Nebraska Kearney to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (2021-23) before coming to Idaho.

"Coaching basketball is coaching basketball," she said, acknowledging that posts are taller at the Division I level.

At Kearney, she said her teams commonly faced interior players of 6-foot or 6-1.

"At this level, we've played 6-8 and 6-6," she said. "There is some elite-level scoring as well. You might not see that in Division II. Here, each team has a player or two you have got to be concerned about."

But Eighmey is pleased with her Vandals' season.

"I am super impressed with our team," she said. "A lot of games haven't been easy.

"There is a lot of improvement to be made. Our offense is still trying to figure it out. We have just scratched the surface."